Document Detail

Overwinter mass loss of snowshoe hares in the Yukon: starvation, stress, adaptation or artefact?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  16903038     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
1. Overwinter mass loss can reduce energetic requirements in mammals (Dehnel's phenomenon). Alternatively, mass loss can result from food limitation or high predation risk. 2. We use data from fertilizer, food-supplementation and predator-exclusion experiments in the Yukon during a population cycle from 1986 to 1996 to test the causes of overwinter mass loss by snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus). In all years, some hares on control sites gained mass overwinter. During the increase phase the majority gained mass, but in all other phases the majority lost mass. 3. Snowshoe hares weighing <1000 g in autumn always gained mass overwinter, as did the majority that weighed 1000-1400 g. Hares weighing >1800 g in autumn usually lost mass. 4. Snowshoe hares on the predator-exclosure + food site gained mass overwinter in all years. Hares on the food-supplementation sites lost mass during the decline but gained mass in all other phases. Fertilization had little effect on mass dynamics. 5. Snowshoe hares were more likely to lose mass during winters with low survival rates. Snowshoe hares on the predator-exclosure treatments were more likely to gain mass than were hares on control sites. 6. Overwinter mass loss was correlated with maximum snow depth. At equivalent snow depths, hares on food-supplemented areas lost 98 g (+/- 14.6 SE) less on average than hares on the controls and predator-exclosure treatment. 7. Bone-marrow fat was related to body mass and cause of death. Small hares had the lowest marrow fat. Hares killed by humans had higher marrow fat than those killed by predators; hares that simply died had the lowest marrow fat. Hares on food-supplemented sites had the highest kidney and marrow fat. 8. Overwinter-mass loss for snowshoe hares is explained interactively by winter conditions, food supply, predation risk and autumn mass. Some snowshoe hares lost mass overwinter in all years and on all treatments, suggesting that reducing body mass may facilitate survival, especially in cases where foraging costs are high energetically or increase predation risk.
Karen E Hodges; Rudy Boonstra; Charles J Krebs
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of animal ecology     Volume:  75     ISSN:  0021-8790     ISO Abbreviation:  J Anim Ecol     Publication Date:  2006 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2006-08-14     Completed Date:  2007-07-12     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376574     Medline TA:  J Anim Ecol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1-13     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
Adipose Tissue / metabolism
Bone Marrow / metabolism
Energy Metabolism / physiology
Food Chain*
Food Supply*
Hares / physiology*
Predatory Behavior / physiology
Risk Factors
Starvation / physiopathology,  veterinary
Stress, Physiological / physiopathology,  veterinary
Weight Loss / physiology*
Yukon Territory

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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